Buy the Book!



The Devil in Prada is no match for the employee from Hell! While a great deal of attention is being directed to ‘Bad Bosses’ who, literally, make their employees lives a living hell, less is said about the employee who is a recurring nightmare during the day hours in the workplace. It is ultimate irony that a place of employment, in which a paycheck is exchanged for services provided, is often times held hostage by its own institutional policies and unwillingness to confront employees whose daily dysfunctions are a hindrance to improving the bottom line. The dysfunctions run the continuum from chronic tardiness, absenteeism due to a long list of undefined illnesses, to behavior in need of a pharmaceutical remedy.

It has often been stated, as a matter of business lore, that 80 percent of managerial time is taken up by 20 percent of the workforce. The idea that such a small number of individuals can garner so much time and attention is, truly, a testament to a large organization’s ability to endure and prevail despite this brand of annoyance. In fact, there is a greater tendency to minimize the impact by channeling the employee – from - hell to various departments that are off the beaten path. The real issue for most entrepreneurs is in knowing how to manage the behavior when the organization is not large enough to hide that individual.

It makes no logical sense that employee who agrees to perform daily tasks, (Psychological Contract), in exchange for an agreed upon compensation, would go out of their way to be anything but a good employee. Yet, for a certain percentage of the workforce, the idea of being an ideal employee goes against their….whatever!
At the point of workplace dysfunction, it becomes the responsibility of the immediate supervisor to begin to reel in the behavior. Supervisors are rarely trained in the fine art of psychological assessment, but they are expected to ‘coach’ an employee with an attendance problem into conforming to organizational standards. When besieged by a variety of issues that pull at trying to grow a business, any entrepreneur would be hard pressed trying to address the question, “Why am I spending valuable time trying to coach an adult employee into coming to work on time?”

The simple fact of the matter is that most employees-from-hell are more than aware of the fact that they are an employee-from-hell. There are those who wear this label as a badge of honor as opposed to an indictment against their character. Having pride in the dysfunction seems to be one of those motivators that lay dormant beneath the radar of most selection instruments. The ninety first day of employment appears to be the point when the dysfunction begins to rear its ugly head. From that point forward it becomes a drain on the organization’s resources to keep the behavior aligned with organizational goals.

The other immeasurable impact is felt by the employees who are, departmentally, forced to work with this brand of employee. Their primary concern is always centered on why any organization would tolerate such conduct when the other employees within in the department are, essentially, doing their job. How many times have employees breathed a sigh of relief having watched the employee – from – hell be marched out of the organization, only to have them reinstated due to some technical flaw in the removal process? It would seem that if a reasonably thinking adult knows that they really don’t want to work at a particular place, then any behavioral demonstration that reinforces that sentiment is just a waste of time!

When small, entrepreneurial organizations have no place to hide this brand of employee, it has no recourse but to confront the problem head on, with legal and Human Resource consultation, and resolve the issue before the workplace becomes a haven for the organizationally dysfunctional.

© 2013 Lee E. Meadows
Website Design by